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Why Is SCOTUS Slacking This Term?

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By George Khoury, Esq. on April 23, 2018 6:57 AM

As some SCOTUS pundits have caught on, the High Court seems to be slacking this term. Numerous reports explain that the justices have only issued 17 signed decisions so far through the end of March. For sports gambling enthusiasts, the delay must be maddening.

While that number isn't too far off from the past couple years, it's a far cry from the 31 the Court issued in 2013. The numbers haven't been this low since Chief Justice John Roberts became the Chief Justice. And while the volume of cases may be down, the reasons behind the slow down are presently unknown, and nearly unpredictable.

Blame the New Guy

While some might want to just point the finger of blame at the new guy, he isn't really that likely to be the whole reason behind the problem. Justice Gorsuch is the Court's most junior justice, being only a mere 50 years old. Justice Kagan wins the prize for next youngest supreme jurist at only 57 years young.

As SCOTUS scholar, Adam Feldman noted in relation to the lighter than usual caseload this term: "Perhaps this is related to the justices aging, and the justices might say that they are spending more time poring over each case and writing the opinions." Though, it may be "more likely that the output is related to the court adjusting to this lighter workload to better space their work out across the term."

Some pundits suggest that the delays are due to the divisive issues and divided court. There is no real clear consensus on whether either party has a majority due to Kennedy's proclivity for flip-flopping. However, some folks are convinced that Gorsuch's "willingness to question his colleagues" has minimally assisted in the delay.

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